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Recommendations for an beginner's hammer(s) & tong(s)?

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I'm just getting started-out. I have my anvil, and am building a stand for it. I am building my propane forge (almost done, just need to get the coatings in it and tune it/troubleshoot).

So, for someone just starting out, what's the recommendations beginning hammer and tongs? And any recommendations on where to buy them? I know I should eventually I should be able to make my own tongs, but I'm not there yet.

I was considering the cheaper house-brand hammers at Blacksmith's Depot, they sell a set as the "800 Swed and 1000 Czech". Is that because those are a good beginner's combo or just their two cheap hammers?

For tongs, from reading online and looking around, a pair of wolf-jaw tongs sounds very universal for starting-out. Thinking maybe 16" or 20" long pair

If it makes any difference, I hope to eventually make some knives. Given the size of my forge (freon tank) I won't be doing anything really large.


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Take a look around second hand shops, flea markets, garage and yard sales for hammers. To start you won't really need anything special, ball peins and cross peins are pretty common as are drilling hammers.

If I had to pick two styles from the hardware store it'd be a cross pein and a drilling hammer. This is a drilling hammer Amazon.com: Drilling Hammer, 2 Lb: Home Improvement and this is a cross pein.

I don't recommend a beginner use a hammer much heavier than 2lb till they develop good hammer technique and build up a little muscle.

However well you can do with whatever hammers you find, a hammer designed by a smith for smithing is another thing all together. So, go with the garage sale or closeout store hammers to get to forging and save up for one of Mr. Hofi's hammers.


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what Frosty said!! also I would be sure to get some experience before you start using a really nice hammer like Hofi's, you will want to keep the face of your smithing hammer in perfect shape, and it takes a while to learn the right techniques to keep from damaging the face. It is a fact that after you start smithing, the hammers will start accumulating in your shop, like rabbits, and you will have some for chisel work, some for cold work, your really nice one for hot work etc.. so take your time and enjoy the journey.

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I use a 2 1/2 lb. cross peen from home depo for all my work, and I've been using it for the past 2+ years. One corner of the peen could use some slight reshaping and the handle is about to come off. I think I paid about $20.00 for it. So you can get a decent hammer that way!
I used vice grips for the first year but I don't recommend it. If you have the money I would say go ahead and buy some tongs. I have one pair if 3/8" round tongs, but they hold the same in square and will handle 1/2" round as well. They aren't as good with flat, but if I'm carefull I can use them for that as well. So you can get one pair and make do if you have to!

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+1 what Frosty said about hammers. I can find ball peins of various sizes for $1 a piece at the local flea markets every weekend. Cross peins can be found for $5-10 depending on size and condition. Used hammers are a great way to start.

Personally when I started I purchased three tools new and everything else has been used.

I bought a rounding hammer from Blacksmith Depot and some Offcenter brand tongs for 1/4 inch and 3/8. The tongs hold square and round and because they are built for specific size stock they hold it very secure.

As a new smith being able to hold your hot metal and move it the way you want to without fighting with a set of tongs that don't fit can not only be frustrating but dangerous. Vise grips are not a bad idea if the right tongs are not available.

As has been said hammers will start to accumulate and I have a real hard time walking past a used hammer at a flea market that is calling out to me to take it home.

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Hello harri
i have with me only the hebrew translation of the resurch and artical
that was printed years ago in the israely hosha quaterly .
The moment i''ll get hold of the endlish version or how to get to the original i''ll send it to you

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I would recommend starting with a hammer with a short distance from the eye to the face, and not much longer from the eye to the pein. A hammer in which you can turn the face at a 35 to 45 degree angle to the anvil face and still have the eye over the edge of the hammer will serve you very well. When you hit with the flat of the hammer the metal is driven in all directions which means that if you want to make a long taper you are constantly fighting against yourself. By using the edges of the hammer you are able to focus the movement of the metal in just two directions. When using the edge of the hammer you aren't swinging at an angle, you are still swinging straight down. If the eye of the hammer isn't directly over the part of the hammer hitting the steel the whole hammer will want to roll over. I remember Elmer Roush telling me that when he was learning techniques in Czechoslovakia the instructor would put a dab of paint on the center of the face of the hammer and want that paint to still be there at the end of the day; the idea is that by using the edges of the hammer you will learn to control the directional movement of metal much faster- it also requires less work to make the metal move much farther which is very encouraging. Look at Hofi's instructions on moving metal he will give you great insight. I would disagree with some of the other's postings and recommend (if you are really serious) to get a good hammer such as a Hofi hammer, an Elmer Roush hammer, Blacksmith Depot's german short hammer, or a Habermann hammer- I've only seen pictures but it looks like it would be a good one. Starting with good tools and good techniques will make it easier, more fun, and less damaging.

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Small hammers are safer to learn with, most people should use a 2# or less to start with. I like ball peins, and rounding hammers, and use them regularly, but my main forging hammer is a 2# square faced Tom Clark hammer. A square faced hammer gives you more options, and it is easier to forge an even shoulder, and use the edges of the hammer to fuller. If you get to see Brian Brazeal forge a 3D horse head in 2" square stock, you will understand the benifits of being able to use the edge of the hammer. Use what you can find until you can make, reforge, or buy better. You will find what works for you. Once you get some experience, and interact with other well trained experienced smiths, you will get a better idea of what you want out of your hammers.

As far as tongs, there are a lot of projects you don't need tongs for. For beginners it is often easier to hold on to a longer piece of steel that you can hold with your hand, rather than use a shorter peice of steel that you need to hold with tongs. Tongs are realitively easy to forge, and it is nice to use tools that you made yourself. Once you get good at it, you will likely not want to use other peoples tongs (I know I don't ;-) It is nice to make tools you can be proud of.

Learn good technique and form when you are starting out, and it will pay dividends in longevity, and skill.

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